Today, as part of preparation for Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, Minister of the Interior Aleš Hojs held a meeting by videoconference with Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission for Promoting the European Way of Life.
The discussion was held in a constructive atmosphere. The Minister and the Vice-President agreed to meet in person just before the start of the upcoming Slovenian Presidency as well as upon the visit of the College of Commissioners marking the beginning of Slovenian Presidency, noting that they would further deepen cooperation in the second half of 2021. “The European Commission is an important partner in achieving common solutions for the EU,” said the Minister.
The Minister then briefly presented the pandemic situation and restrictions in Slovenia and introduced Slovenia’s key priorities in the field of home affairs during the Slovenian Presidency of the Council to the Vice-President of the European Commission. These are based on a joint 18-month Programme prepared by Slovenia together with Germany and Portugal as partners of the trio Presidency and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs who chairs the Foreign Affairs Council.
“In the area of home affairs, we will strive to strengthen the Schengen area, to manage migration in a comprehensive manner and to ensure a high level of security in the EU and Slovenia,” explained the Minister, adding that we closely follow the work of our Portuguese colleagues. “We will be able to pinpoint the objectives we would like to achieve during our Presidency just before the start of the Presidency. At that point, we will have a clearer sense of the state of play in the negotiations on the key dossiers to be discussed during our Presidency,” commented Minister Hojs.
The Minister and the Vice-President discussed possible solutions to the deadlock in the negotiations on the Migration and Asylum Pact. They both agreed that we are close to a compromise for the adoption of the EU Asylum Agency regulation, but we need to initiate talks with the Mediterranean countries early enough while compromises will have to be sought jointly by Slovenia and Portugal.
They confirmed the importance of drawing up a list of third countries and involving them in cooperation on return and readmission, while also creating a set of measures to be used by the European Commission should these countries resist such cooperation. “I think it would make sense to start with a shorter list of 4 or 5 countries and see how the concept works. We will not receive a consensus in the Council if we opt for cooperation with a broader group of countries given that we know that some Member States have strong bilateral ties with some countries, especially North African ones,” said Minister Hojs.
They also touched on the negotiations on the Europol Regulation and on the implementation of interoperability. As the last but important regional priority, the Minister highlighted our ties with the Western Balkan countries. “There will be a special focus on cooperation with the Western Balkan countries and the Presidency will provide quite a few topics that will significantly affect their EU dimension.”
The Vice-President of the European Commission upheld the Slovenian Presidency’s home affairs plans and expressed the support of the European Commission in achieving the objectives. “I trust that you will master the geography of the European Union well and that, as an engineer, you will manage the Presidency with success,” ended Vice-President on a humorous note.